In iOS 13, Apple added an important new feature to its HomeKit smart home ecosystem: HomeKit Secure Video. It gives you a secure, private way to store and access recordings from your Smart Home IoT cameras.
The Apple HomeKit has long been known as a safe alternative to many other smart home systems. This is partly because HomeKit focuses on encryption and stays as local as possible at home rather than communicating with a server. However, cameras were an exception and often uploaded unencrypted video for object analysis to a server.
Now that we have HomeKit Secure Video, supported cameras can offer private and encrypted videos in the cloud that can be viewed directly from home app on your iPhone. You also get an object detection feature that analyzes all videos locally on a HomeKit hub, such as an iPad, and sends activity notifications without having to upload a video to someone else's server.
How HomeKit Secure Video Works
The Smartest Home Cameras upload video feeds to a server where they are analyzed for relevant information such as people or vehicles and stored for remote access. These cameras upload unencrypted videos of your home to a server you can not control. Although violations of these servers are rare, they can happen, and this means that someone without your knowledge gains access to potentially confidential videos from your home.
HomeKit Secure Video fixes the issue using a local iPad, HomePod, or Apple TV to analyze the video and send you relevant notifications. These notifications include recognizing people, animals, or vehicles. They can be customized to only be sent based on the time of day or who is home or not.
The video is then encrypted and uploaded to Apple's iCloud server for remote access. By using encryption, HomeKit Secure Video ensures that your videos will not be accessible even if the Apple servers are breached without the encryption key. And since the key is only stored on your devices, not even Apple can show your videos.
If you make HomeKit Secure Video the default, any camera manufacturer that supports it can access the same features to choose the camera that best suits your setup, rather than worrying about which features are supported.
As part of HomeKit, everything is controlled via the home app. This means you will need to download one app less, manage one less login, and need a less space to control your smart home.
To use HomeKit Secure Video (HSV), you need a few things to get started.
If you want to save records to the cloud, you'll also need an iCloud storage plan. The 200 GB plan is required to store records from one camera, and the 2 TB plan supports up to five cameras. Recordings do not count toward your storage space and are stored for ten days. If you only want to stream the video, no plan is required.
How to Use HomeKit Secure Video
After you set up a camera to use HomeKit Secure Video, select your camera in the Home app. Then tap the adjustment gear icon in the upper left corner. Here you can configure the settings for your camera. These settings include:
- General settings available for most HomeKit devices, such as: For example, the room in which the camera is located, additional accessories connected to the camera, and setting the camera as a favorite.
- How and when to receive notifications from the camera.
- When should the camera only stream videos and when should they record videos?
- Switch status or night vision lights on the camera.
Feature 1: Notifications
To set up notifications, tap the option on the pane "Notifications". From here, you can see the following options:
- Allow snapshots in notifications: This option allows you to specify that notifications from the camera contain a snapshot indicating what triggered the alarm.
- Status Change Notifications: This option allows you to pass notifications when the camera toggles between Off, Activity Only Detect, Stream Only, and Stream & Capture modes.
Enabling the Activity Notifications option gives you a number of options for the types of notifications you want to receive. You can receive notifications based on the following criteria:
- Time: You can set notifications at any time, only during the day, only at night or within a user-defined time period that you specify.
- People: You can set notifications to be sent only when you are home or not. If you've set up more than one person in the Home app, you can also set alerts to be sent when someone or no one is home.
- Every movement is detected: You can set notifications to send notifications whenever the camera detects movement.
- A clip is being recorded: You can set notifications when recordings take place. This may be because the camera has caught people, vehicles or animals (more on this below). ,
By changing these settings, you can ensure that you are not overwhelmed with unnecessary notifications, and you can ensure that you are informed of the events that are important to you.
HomeKit Secure Video allows you to automatically switch the camera between different modes depending on whether or not people are at home. Tap "Home" or "Away" to toggle between the following options: Off: The camera does not record anything, does not broadcast streaming video, and detects no activity.
With HomeKit Secure Video you can create more Perform Features Refine when you want to record based on the content of the video. You can save pictures when:
- Any motion is detected: Pictures are taken when a motion is seen in the video.
- Certain motion is detected: Shots are detected This only happens when certain things are seen in the video, including people, animals, vehicles, or any combination of them.
These settings also affect the sending of notifications. When notifications are set to "A clip being recorded", notifications are sent only when the objects specified in your recording options are detected. For example, an outdoor camera can be set to notify you only when a person comes to your door while ignoring cars in the background. Or you can set a backyard camera to only notify you when your dog breaks through the screen door again.
Finally, you can toggle whether or not to turn on the "Record Audio" option Recording sound contains or not. If you want to delete all the recordings saved in iCloud, tap the "Erase This Camera Recordings" button to delete all the data.
Some cameras Add lights to indicate which mode the light is in. For example, the Logitech Circle 2 may change color depending on whether the camera is set to stream or record only and if someone is viewing the live video feed. To turn the light on or off, tap the Camera Status Light switch.
In addition, some cameras have infrared light for night vision when the ambient light becomes too weak. To turn this off, tap the "Night Vision Light" button.
When viewing the live video feed from your camera, it will display a timeline bar be on the bottom. You can scrub left and right on the bar to see all your saved pictures. Each segment has an icon that indicates what triggered the recording (person, animal, vehicle, or movement), and the recording time is updated as you scrub across the bar.
When you reach the desired time, the recording will automatically start. You can then tap the play / pause button on the left side of the timeline to pause and start the video. Tap the "LIVE" button on the right side of the timeline to return to the live feed.
While scrubbing on the timeline, another bar appears at the top of the screen, showing you the video capture day. You can then tap specific days to switch between them and swipe left and right between weeks on the bar (or tap the < and > buttons).
If you want to share or delete a particular clip, just tap the Share button above the timeline, and then navigate to the clip you want. When you have found the clip, tap the yellow button Click the "Next" button in the top right corner to open the stock sheet. The right side of the timeline bar also contains the trash can icon, which deletes the clip from iCloud.
Apple's HomeKit system had a sluggish start, but evolved into a fully functional one and secure home automation system. HomeKit Secure Video is an important extension of HomeKit that can store potentially sensitive and confidential data in a way that you can easily access while being locked away from anyone else.
With its powerful record and notification options, you can also make sure that you do not miss a major event and are not flooded with a lot of useless alerts. Although there are currently only a few cameras that support HomeKit Secure Video with such robust features, more manufacturers will be added soon. So you have a wider choice of cameras to choose from, with which you can put together your perfect Smart Home.